Well, a three day turnaround between the Owyhee and the North Fork John Day river trips was pretty luxurious for prep time so we shortened it down to one day back home before we were headed to our third river in three weeks, the lower John Day. The Clarno to Cottonwood float is about 70 miles and you can’t have any appreciation for the country you float through unless you see it from the water.
You start out in some pretty, well, lets just say, agricultural, country. Country infested with noxious weeds, showing lots of signs of erosion, plenty of cows eating down the riparian area and broken down abandoned equipment.
But before the end of the first day you start to get away from all that and you float into paradise for the next 4 days.
A mere three days passed between pulling off the Owyhee and our next river trip of the spring, a three-day float down the North Fork John Day.
We attempted this trip last year but the flows dropped too low just days before the launch. With the deep snow pack this year flows weren’t an issue. The North Fork is a different setting than the main John Day. For most of the 41 mile float you are in ponderosa pine and even some Douglas-fir. It’s almost more of a Grande Ronde feel than the dry country of the main John Day.
It’s been on the river list for years. Finally the stars aligned, the flows held up and we were Owyhee bound. We arrived at the put in about 1 a.m. to find an overflowing parking lot. We found a spot off the road to spend the night and before we knew it the sun was up and it was time to get on the water. We made our way through the usual antics and congestion that is the put in without too much pain and agony and got on the water.
After the first few miles we started to get into the scenery.